United States. Congress. House. Committee on the J.

Rising scourge of methamphetamine in America : hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, October 26, 1995 online

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to be taken into consideration as well as the quantities.

Mr. McCoLLUM. Well, if it's 5 grams, how much is 5 grams of
this stuff? Is it like crack? Are we talking about delivering this
stuff in vials, or do they deliver it in little bags like marijuana?
How, is it distributed on the street. If I am a runner, I'm told right
now, I'm likely to have 20 to 50 doses of crack, and that's going
to be about 5 grams if I've got somewhere in that range on my per-
son, and I'm pretty clearly a dealer of some sort, on the street level.
What does that compare to with methamphetamine? Is it the same,
roughly, the way they do it or is it something different? Sergeant

Mr. Sanchez. Basically, it would be the same. A gram usually
you'll see it in a one-by-one plastic package like a small sandwich
bag, that's the way it looks. But, it's just a one-by-one type. Gen-
erally if you get that amount, normally we consider as personal

But that's not to say that person is using it. That person could
be taking that to somebody else as a seller because he knows that
if that's all he has, that, if he's arrested they are going to release
him because it doesn't meet the threshold.

Mr. McCoLLUM. Well, how much quantity have we got for you
to assume that the methamphetamine — the person transporting it,
carrying it, having it on their person, is more likely than not to be
a dealer? A runner, I don't mean the cartel guy, I mean, the guy
who is out there in the business rather than for personal use.


Mr. Sanchez. Normally, an ounce is usually somebodv that is
dealing that we've had experience with. Again, I can't tell you off
the top of my head how many grams are in that ounce.

Mr. McCoLLUM. Would Agent Waller, or Lieutenant Mayer,
would you concur in that quantity type of analysis? Or do you have
a different opinion?

Mr. Mayer. An ounce is about the size of a golf ball, which is
a lot of methamphetamine. Because there are so much sales going
on, we basically pay more attention at about the ounce level and
above when it comes to priorities of investigations.

Mr. McCoLLUM. How about you, Agent Waller?

Mr. Waller. Same as in Florida. With the ounce amounts, obvi-
ously the person's got several of the 8-ball amounts, they would
probably be considered a dealer, too.

Mr. McCoLLUM. Mr. Scott, I think you should be recognized for
5 minutes at this point.

Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Lieutenant Mayer, you mentioned babies that are bom exposed
to methamphetamine. We know the physiological problems that are
caused by cocaine exposure, and you kind of alluded to the meth-
amphetamine, could you go into a little — do you know specifically
how bad the exposure is to someone?

Mr. Mayer. I'm told it's somewhat consistent as a crack baby. I
have seen newborn infants going through withdrawal, and they are
very irritable; they cry a lot, uncontrolled movements to the point
where they will wear sores on their elbows and their knees.

Mr. Scott. Are you familiar with whether or not there's been a
lot of research? There's been a lot of research on crack babies, as
I understand it. Has there been as much on methamphetamine?
One of the things I think with crack is that if you discover the
crack use relatively late in the pregnancy — I mean if you have the
crack use early in the pregnancy, the damage is done, and there's
not much you can do but just get ready for the situation. Does the
same problem occur with methamphetamine?

Mr. Mayer. I'm not an expert on that, but I've been told by the
people that are in the health field that it's very, very important to
get an expecting mother early in her pregnancy to get her treated
and educated. TTie further it goes through the term of pregnancy,
the more damage the fetus will have.

Mr. Scott. So, by catching it half way through the pregnancy,
you can reduce the damage done?

Mr. Mayer. A lot of the methamphetamine use and the develop-
ment of an infant, as I understand — or a fetus, has to do with the
brain cells, and as the brain develops the more time you give it
without having drugs ingested into it, it is only logical to me that
it would be better.

Mr. Scott. You mentioned the National Guard involvement to —
are you anywhere close to the line on the posse comitatus?

Mr. Mayer. We try to be veiy careful not to cross that line, sir.

Mr. Scott. Do you get very close? I couldn't quite tell what their
involvement was.

Mr. Mayer. Their involvement — let me give you and example of
how the sergeant for the National Guard works in our unit. He is
our intake pnone call person. We receive hundreds of phone calls


on tips and intelligence information, and he gathers his informa-
tion and forwards it on to our intelligence unit for analyzation.

Mr. Scott. Sergeant Sanchez, you mentioned contamination as
one of the byproducts of the manufacture. Is that air contamination
detectable outside of the house or the lab where it's being done?

Mr. Sanchez. Grenerally, as far as the air is concerned on the ex-
terior, it — the problems you deal with is when you have an en-
closed lab, and the contamination there would be either poisonous
or flammable. Outside, the contamination that you're going to get
is basically the same except it is going to be diluted because it's
getting into open air and

Mr. Scott. Well, I guess, in terms of detection, if you had some
air monitors — going up and down the street with air monitors,
could you detect the illegal activity from outside of the home?

Mr. Sanchez. You could, but, again, because of some of the prob-
lems dealing with different wind direction, that may not give you
a good, direct location.

Mr. Scott. And, if you develop some contamination, could it be
the result of legal activity and not just illegal activity?

Mr. Sanchez. In some respects, yes. Myradic acid, again, some-
body who has a large amount of it, say that has a job as a pool
cleaner, some of the caps become faulty, releasing fumes into the
air. Those are all of the things that we consider when we are look-
ing into these type of situations.

Mr. Scott. I think we've kind of touched on this. The difference
between crack and methamphetamine in terms of what it does,
how dangerous it is for the behavior after the fact. Can you com-
pare the two. If you're confronted with somebody who is high on
crack or confronted with someone who is high on methamphet-
amine, what is the difference?

Mr. Sanchez. My situation is that as far as involvement with the
tactical teams, I kind of compare methamphetamine basically with
PCP. PCP, again, is a pain reducer, and consequently you can
shoot holes through people all day long, and they wouldn't feel the

Mr. Scott. Can they get on crack?

Mr. Sanchez. Crack, yes you do, but the difference that I see is
that the violence potential seems to be, with methamphetamine, a
little more because they are very paranoid. Some of these guys, es-
pecially if they are consistent users, feel that somebody is always
chasing them. That's why the majority of the time they're always
armed, whether they are cooking, using, or just going down the
street to get something to eat. So it becomes that kind of a situa-
tion where you have somebody who is very, very paranoid about
the world around them on a consistent day to day basis if they are
a user, a consistent user.

Mr. Scott. Thank you.

Mr. McCoLLUM. Thank you, Mr. Scott. Mr. Coble.

Mr. Coble. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Gentlemen, good to have
you all with us.

Mr. Waller, let me read from your statement. "Most drug edu-
cation efforts have centered on powder and crack cocaine. Increased
awareness of the dangers of methamphetamine use will hopefully
alleviate some of the problems we now see with the cocaine abuse."


This may be subject to interpretation, but I'm not sure where you
are headed. Tell me where you are headed with this statement.

Mr. Waller. Most of the education that you see for the general
public is for cocaine and crack cocaine that we're seeing because of
the influx of that drug over the past number of years. There's, from
what I've seen, little or no public education on methamphetamine
and the downfall of the use of methamphetamine. We need to start
it now and not get behind the 8-ball like we did on

Mr. Coble. OK, well, now that was where I figured where you
were coming from.

Let me talk to my Oregonian friend. You indicate, sir, and this —
Mr. Scott touched on this briefly — a number of newly borns having
a high percentage of them exposed to drugs, and methamphet-
amine in particular. This is perhaps extending Mr. Scott's question.
Can you tell us, Mr. Mayer, what is the attractive feature con-
tained in methamphetamine that would be so compelling to the
younger people as opposed to crack or powdered cocaine? Because
it is my belief that the price of methamphetamine is probably ex-
cessive as to either cocaines. First of all, is that correct?

Mr. Mayer. No, methamphetamine, in my experience, is much

Mr. Coble. OK, that may be one of the attractive features. But
it seems to me in some parts of the country that methamphetamine
is probably higher than crack cocaine, but I may be wrong about
that. Do you all know about that?

Mr. Sanchez. It depends on the area you come from meth-
amphetamine is cheap in Arizona

Mr. Coble. OK. All right, in Oregon, in your case, sir, obviously
the lower price would be one of the attractive features. What would
be another feature that would grab you and say, "I want meth-
amphetamine rather than cocaine?"

Mr. Mayer. One of them is availability. In our area, meth-
amphetamine, because we are so close to the manufacturing source,
is readily available. I can't say that cocaine is nonexistent in our
area, but it is rare. Heroine and methamphetamine are the two key
drugs. One of the groups of people that we see the fastest growth
of methamphetamine use, unfortunately, are young women of child-
bearing age.

Mr. Coble. Gentlemen, I want to put this question to either or
all of you collectively. I was going to ask the DEA Administrator
this morning this question, but my time expired, and maybe you
all have touched on this in my absence. How do you investigate
rogue chemical companies? I mean, these fly by night outfits who
may buy a huge quantity of drugs and then serve as a middle man,
if you will, to those who — on farther down the line. How do you go
about that?

Mr. Waller. In some of the cases in Florida, one in particular,
I know of, a company down near Danla, FL, was selling glassware
and chemicals. Basically, as people started getting arrested with
these various chemicals and all, they were arrested and prosecuted
and began cooperating. People were later just sent back into the
companies to make purchases that were out of the ordinary which
law enforcement to seize the companies and close them down.


Mr. Coble. But, I'm sure that they must be widespread all over
the countryside.

Mr. Mayer. They are. It's my understanding, too, that each State
has different reporting requirements as far as what needs to be re-
ported, and I know — we just recently worked a case where glass-
ware, unusual glassware was sent to a local high school, and it was
just merely the company that thought it was weird that when they
found out that somehow the teacher receiving this was a math
teacher, not a chemistry teacher, it turned out that she was a
methamphetamine cook. We recently arrested her and her con-

Mr. Coble. I appreciate you all being with us.

Mr. Chairman, in closing, I want to thank you for your question
regarding the — for want of a better way of saying it, the lack of
consistency in some of the sentences. As crack, powder, and meth-
amphetamine, now we may want to — I'm riding the same train you
are on this issue. We may want to have a prayer meeting over that,
one of these first days as well.

Mr. McCoLLUM. We'll certainly pray with you about this one.

Mr. Coble. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, gentlemen.

Mr. McCoLLUM. You're welcome. Ms. Jackson Lee, you're recog-
nized for 5 minutes.

Ms. Jackson Lee. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I
thank the witnesses for their appearance here. I may ask some
questions that might have been relevant to the earlier panel, in as
much as I was involved in a debate on the House floor.

I understand that this phenomenon is one that is extremely ap-
palling and stressing one the phenomenon of the increasing drug
utilization, and then, of course, this increased use and seemingly
proliferation of methamphetamine.

My question to each of you, and I'd like to get a yes or no answer
as to what do you feel should be the appropriate balance between
law enforcement and education. Lieutenant Mayer.

Mr. Mayer. I spoke on this heavily in my speech. And where I
see the balance occurring is focusing on where — putting resources
and grant dollars into the areas where you see cooperation and cor-
roboration between the treatment, education, and law enforcement
where they are working together rather than working as independ-
ents. I see that we can go a lot further by working with treatment,
education and law enforcement together from a systemic approach,
and I think we need to encourage more of that as opposed to indi-
vidual efforts.

Ms. Jackson Lee. You have that in Oregon?

Mr. Mayer. Yes. In some places.

Ms. Jackson Lee. Sergeant Sanchez.

Mr. Sanchez. As far as education as compared to law enforce-
ment, it's one of those issues that has to cover everybody, including
the law enforcement officers. They need to be educated on what to
look for, what not to look for, the hazards. On the civilian end of
it, again, seeing and finding those things to say someone who owns
a house or a hotel, runs a hotel, they need to be educated on what
to look for, what not to look for, the hazards that are involved. All
the way down through the school system. Again, because of a con-
tamination problem — I've seen places where a cook has taken


place, and the maid has gone in there and cleaned up the meth-
amphetamine lab not knowing what was there.

Ms. Jackson Lee. So, they need to have an education both in
terms of prevention, but also to recognize it. Agent Waller.

Mr. Waller. I concur with my two colleagues. In Florida, part
of our problem is the law enforcement area, the agents not knowing
what they've come across. The county and the city police officers —
in one instance, a group had come from California, cooked near
Fort Meyers, and actually blew up a house. And the local sheriflTs
department had responded out and didn't really know what they
had and moved chemicals around and glassware, which in effect
could have been deadly to some of the officers.

Ms. Jackson Lee. That's the enforcement. And, Lieutenant
Mayer, I'm from Texas, and we are certainly very strongly involved
in I think a comprehensive approach that involves law enforcement
and certainly involves prevention. I think that part of the problem
that we have in this Nation is that as much as law enforcement
is important, that's the profession that you all are here represent-
ing, as much as you enforce, if you continue to have utilization and
usage, you are more or less chasing yourself around a tree.

But I noticed in your remarks you commented on the North
American Free Trade Act, which is a legal law that was passed in
the U.S. Congress. Are you suggesting that the North American
Free Trade Act is a proponent of drug trafficking? Because I would
think that would be a far stretch for a piece of legislation that was
intended to encourage cooperation between Mexico and the United

Mr. Mayer. No, and in looking at it just merely in outline form
without hearing the testimony, it could have been taken out of con-
text. What I wanted to address was, the fact that California Bu-
reau of Narcotic Enforcement personnel have readily told me, and
it's been our observations as well, that NAFTA has loosened up the
border to the point that precursor chemicals and final product can
be smuggled across much more easily. The joke, as I indicated ear-
lier, and it's very serious, is that many law enforcement officers
that deal in investigations regarding narcotics, call it the Narcotic
Free Trade Agreement. I'm not an expert when it comes to the
business aspect of it, but it has impacted the

Ms. Jackson Lee. This would be a situation — I don't mean to cut
you off— where the educational aspect, in terms of recognition
about border patrol of the chemicals that might be coming or either
some sort of litmus test about what chemicals you have freely going
across the borders. Is that something that might

Mr. Mayer. Unfortunately, some of them can't be detected with-
out thorough searching.

Ms. Jackson Lee. Let me ask this question of the three of you
as well. I ^ess I am concerned about the problem. I am disturbed
that even m light of the increased funding for law enforcement, we
now face this situation where we're seeing an increase. That in-
crease in the use of marijuana, certainly ongoing utilization of
crack cocaine and cocaine. Now we're coming upon another crisis,
and I am very much looking for an answer as it relates to bringing
down the usage of the drugs or to not encourage the population to
be so attracted to drugs. My question to you, in light of recent


hearings that we have just had evidencing the sharp disparity be-
tween how individuals are prosecuted. Hispanics and African-
Americans more than anyone else are prosecuted substantially
under these sentencing laws dealing with crack and cocaine. I don't
see any great decrease in either those who either buy it from them.

My question to each of you as law enforcement, what will any
changes bring about as we hear these hearings in methamphet-
amine that will bring down the usage and not simply just add more
persons to jails, continue the usage, continue the cycle, continue to
build jails and not do anything? I'm not seeing any answers. So,
if you could just give me a brief answer, I see that my light is on,
but you are allowed to answer briefly to my question whether or
not we are getting anywhere with the sentencing with the incarcer-
ation and not truly balancing it with some real measures to bring
down the usage.

Mr. Mayer. I'll start very briefly. I see us working more together
than people perceive that we are. Many times when a person is ar-
rested, they hit bottom. And for that reason, they are accepting
treatment. Many times because of law enforcement action, about
1,200 times a year, people are mandated into treatment in our
county based on law enforcement action. Not all of those are suc-
cessful, but many of them are. I'd like to see, instead of looking at
prison beds, looking at beds or facilities where treatment is uti-
lized, making it a mandated-type situation.

Ms. Jackson Lee. As cooperation. Sergeant Sanchez.

Mr. Sanchez. On a one-to-one basis, on the education end of it,
there's kids that I have talked to in the junior high level that really
didn't know that these chemicals were involved in making meth-
amphetamine or amphetamine, either one. So, consequently when
you let them know that there is lighter fluid or there's red phos-
phorous or there's sodium cyanide that's involved in this process,
they have a tendency to back away from it. And they may go to
another drug. They may go to marijuana, but at least it gets them
away from that, and that's the small end of the signs of the signs
that I've seen to be able to motivate away from it.

Mr. Waller. Down in Florida in Polk County, we've had several
of our people who have been using the drug for a number of years
who have been arrested a number of times who have been pros-
ecuted in the State courts and essentially continued getting proba-
tion. Most of them are now being prosecuted federally and receiv-
ing stiffer sentences. This is helping to alleviate some of the prob-
lems with the people who have been continually dealing with the
drug. But on the secondhand, too, we do have to continue funding
for treatment facilities. We're going to see more and more of it done
in our area, as these two men are seeing now out in their areas.

Ms. Jackson Lee. Mr. Chairman, I thank you for the time. I
thank you for the hearing, and I think the gentlemen even in law
enforcement have recognized the validity of treatment combined
with enforcement. Thank you.

Mr. McCoLLUM. Thank you, Ms. Jackson Lee.

Mr. Heineman, I recognize you, and I want to thank you for
chairing this committee for quite awhile earlier today. I really ap-
preciate it.


Mr. Heineman. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don't have a lot of
questions. I think my colleagues asked the right questions though
that I would be interested in hearing. It appears to me now that
what we've had on the streets of America is this crack problem, we
had heroine back in the fifties, cocaine, and crack, PCP, and the
rest. And it seems to me that we're in a position now in this coun-
try where methamphetamine hasn't really taken a foothold as it re-
lates to the Eastern part of the country and perhaps the Northeast.
And at a time where we may be the most effect as it relates to pre-
vention. Now we just went through a crime bill, crime bill two, and
there was debate across the aisle about prevention and prevention
programs and enforcement, and of course, as far as crime is con-
cerned, I was one of those that was — favored prisons for the short
run. Prisons are not for the long run.

But it seems to me that the current state of methamphetamine
in this country today — and if I'm wrong, I want you to tell me —
is where we should put the most emphasis on prevention. Aware-
ness and prevention. Certainly as it relates to pregnant women,
and certainly as it relates to the school age population. And I'd like
to hear your thoughts as enforcers of the law as to where you do
see that balance.

And I think Ms. Jackson Lee did almost ask the same questions.
But would the DARE program that's across this country and has
been for the last 11 years, I think — and there's some questions as
to whether it's valid or it's not or it's lasting or it's not. I don't
think it's lasting. I think there should be DARE 2 and perhaps
DARE 3. Once these kids get past the 5th grade, there's no booster
shot. And of course, we have a designer drug here that's geared for
education in schools. So, I'd like to hear from each of you, if you
will, what your feeling is on the proper approach as it relates to
those of us here in the East about a strong dose of prevention in
the right places may prevent the current status of crack cocaine as
it relates to the public on the streets today. In 50 words or less if
you can.

Mr. Mayer. It's kind of tough for 50 words or less. I think that
many times we look at this too simplistic. We're dealing with dif-
ferent types of individuals. We're dealing with people that are ad-
dicts. There's an addiction, and that's an illness. That needs to be
dealt with differently than somebody who is into it for the profit
motive. I think if you deal with the dealers that are into it for the
profit, then punitive sanctions are very, very important. If you deal
with the addiction level, at the lower level, then treatment is very,
very important. And I think you need to analyze it better than we
have been in the past.

Mr. Heineman. Would you consider drug courts very important
in that regard?

Mr. Mayer. Well, I'm going to have to plead a little ignorance
there because we don't use those, and I have not — I'm not as up
on those as I should be.

Mr. Heineman. Sergeant Sanchez.

Mr. Sanchez. I'd like to parallel this with the ghetto gang prob-
lem somewhat which a lot of money was poured into in our State
and still is to cut down on gang violence. That had a real impact


because they did go out to the schools and deal with kids directly
on a one to one basis.

In the drug field, vou have to do basically the same thing, and
you have to get to the root of the problem which is the supplier,
the dealer. The user is not always the biggest problem. It's the
profit margin that becomes a problem. It takes money and man-
power just like the ghetto situation with gangs. I don't know how
else to look at it from the law enforcement nature because again,
we are reactive, but on the educational end for younger kids or peo-
ple who are users, you have to take away the supplier or suppliers.
And the onlv way to do that is to again get some successful-— drug

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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JRising scourge of methamphetamine in America : hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, October 26, 1995 → online text (page 8 of 9)